Cow loss. Calf loss. Milk loss. Lower production. Higher cull rate. Emotional toll…
Unfortunately, these were the topics of conversation yesterday, when we hosted New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez and her team at our dairy farm. Many local dairy farmers came out to discuss the repercussions of winter storm Goliath and how the State can help. Here we are 18 days after the blizzard getting use to our “new” normal. We all knew it was going to be hard, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We may be a little bigger than the average dairy, but this is our family farm. We have worked hard to raise our herd, only to have Mother Nature wreak havoc. Everyday I hear the same stories from heart broken producers and yesterday was no different. One producer’s story hit too close to home for most people in the meeting. He described the emotions he was feeling stepping foot on his dairy Monday morning after the storm. That morning one of his employees came up to him with tears in hers eyes and said “I am sorry for your loss”. And with that they hugged and cried. All his hard work, gone in one day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Governor Susana Martinez came to speak with us about what the State can do to help now, what they are working on for the future and what we still need done. Many of the losses are hard to quantify at this point. And everyday we have more cull cows and more losses. This area’s milk processing plants are receiving 50 less tanker trucks a day. One plant hasn’t received any milk since the storm. I felt like that statistic put things into perspective a little. The State needs to understand the challenges we are facing and will continue to face for the months and years to come. We explained how this isn’t just about the initial loss from the storm. We are getting $600 for the cull cows that were worth $2,000 as a great milk cow only a month ago. Right now, the only support the State can offer is the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). That will cover only a fraction and does nothing to help with cull cows, milk loss or production loss. But the State is not giving up yet. The Governor is applying for a federal disaster declaration. NM is working with Texas and USDA to try and find more ways to help. Only time will tell. It is important for producers to document everything. In order for the State to apply for additional funding, they have to show the economic impact to very county. Turn in all records to your local FSA office. Thankfully we have an administration that was willing to come down to Eastern NM and meet with us and discuss our needs. It was a pleasure having Governor Martinez out for the day. One cow really loved her and even gave some slobbery kisses!
New Mexico Milkmaid